(Quotes from Beth Moore Psalms of Ascent study guide in italics.)
Psalm 121 – Hans-Joachim Kraus’s translation for his commentary on psalms.
- I lift my eyes up to the hills. From where does help come to me?
- Help comes to me from Yahweh, who has made heaven and earth.
- He does not let your foot waver, your keeper does not sleep.
- Behold, neither sleeps nor slumbers the keeper of Israel!
- Yahweh is your keeper, Yahweh is your shade above your right hand!
- By day the sun does not strike, nor the moon by night.
- Yahweh protects you against all harm, He protects your life.
- Yahweh protects your going out and coming in from now on and forever.
Beth says: Some scholars suggest that the first two Psalms of Ascent beautifully depict the pilgrimage of the dispersed Jews back to Jerusalem, either at the conclusion of captivity or at the time of year for the pilgrim feasts. Psalm 120 unfolds with the pilgrim still in his remote location, lamenting his living conditions and longing to be near the house of God. Psalm 121 immediately follows, painting in beautiful brush strokes the image of a traveler on his journey.
The psalmist refers to God as the “Maker of heaven and earth.” That exact phrase is found only 5 times in the entire Hebrew Bible, all of them in psalms, and 3 of them in the Psalms of Ascent (121:2, 124:8, and 134:3). There is a connection between walking down an uncertain path and wanting to be reminded that God is in control of the universe. We want to make sure that God is in control, no matter what happens.
The theme of this psalm is verse 5 – Yahweh is your keeper. 58 syllables (in Hebrew) precede the phrase translated “Yahweh is your keeper” and 58 syllables follow it. That’s one example of how carefully constructed many of the psalms are. The psalmist wanted to emphasize this point, and did so by repeatedly using various forms of the Hebrew word “shamar” – “to keep guard, to preserve, protect; to watch.” We need to realize that God is in control and will protect us. We just need to allow Him to. Beth says At no time does God abdicate your guardianship to an angel alone, regardless of how mighty. We need to know that God never takes His eyes off us as we travel the paths of this tumultuous planet.
God also gives us other believers to support and help us on our journey. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says that two are better than one because they lift up each other. 2 Corinthians 1:10-11 says that we can help each other by being in prayer for each other. I have been blessed with a good friend that listens when I need to talk, prays specifically for me during times of hardship, and encourages me when I need to be lifted up. I have learned, though, that I need more than one buddy covering me in prayer. Not that God doesn’t hear the prayers of one, but because I have more issues that one person can possibly pray over. lol I need to become more involved in a small group of fellow believers that can rally around me and that I can join in rallying around others.
As wonderful as friends are, and as encouraging and helpful as they can be, the problem one finds is that they are always and invariably human. 😉 We need to rely on God for things people can’t possibly begin to help us with, such as our salvation and keeping us from unseen dangers and attacks of the Enemy. People, even when they have the best of intentions, can lead us astray. Christ alone can keep us from stumbling (Jude 24), and dragging others down with us. Beth states: God always protects His children. Yes, often from the physical threats of the world around us, but always in the unseen realm where demons hiss and the gates of hell quake. Our feet do not slip in a world so real, so vivid, that ours is a shadow by comparison. The Lord lets no harm befall us in the world where the truest threats lie.
This is one of my favorite, if not my very favorite, psalms. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have turned to this specific passage when I needed to be reminded of my Father’s love and protection. It was amazing to be able to put my own words to it.
I will lift up my eyes and look into the distance. Where is my help? My help comes from God, my Keeper, Creator of all things. He will not let me fall, He will not take a nap and leave me unattended. Look! He is always awake and watching over me! God is my Keeper, Yahweh shields me and gives me shelter. He will not allow me to be afflicted more than I can tolerate. Yahweh keeps me from harm and protects me as I come and go. He will keep me and protect me forever.